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When are juveniles detained for crimes in Philadelphia?

Crimes are committed in Philadelphia every day. The nature of these crimes vary greatly, as does the people who commits these crimes. People of all different ages commit crimes. However, the age of the person committing the crime determines how the case will be handled by the courts. If the person is at least 18-years-old, they will go through the adult criminal justice system, but if they are under 18 they will go through the juvenile law system.

There are both similarities and differences between the adult and juvenile systems. One of those differences is whether the person will be detained pending the outcome of the case. In the adult system, generally the person is detained unless they can pay bail or abide by certain conditions. However, in the juvenile system the presumption is that they will not be detained in a secure facility unless certain requirements are met.

There are three main reasons that a juvenile can be detained pending the outcome of their case. The first is if they are a danger to the community. In order to meet this criteria the teenager must be charged with a violent crime or meet other criteria -- such as being a repeat offender. However, detention is not automatic, the judge must still find that they are a danger to the community.

The second reason is to ensure their appearance at their next appearance. Detention can be ordered if the child does not have a parent or guardian who can ensure that they will appear in court. However, in addition to that, generally there must be an additional finding that the child has failed to appear at past court appearances.

The third reason is in extraordinary circumstances. There is not a definition as to what extraordinary circumstances may be, but juveniles cannot be detained under this exception simply because there is not a non-secure alternative available. It must be in situations which do not fit into the other two criteria, but still warrant detention.

Juvenile crimes in Philadelphia are treated differently than adult cases. One difference is detention of the accused while the case is pending. However, just like adult cases juveniles are innocent until proven guilty. Experienced attorneys understand the juvenile law system and may be able to protect one's rights.

Source: Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges' Commission, "Pennsylvania Juvenile Delinquency Benchbook, Chapter 5," accessed on June 22, 2015

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